On Monday, after a public outcry ensued when a British judge ordered a young disabled woman to have an abortion, the English Court of Appeal reportedly overturned the decision.
As the Catholic News Agency reports, Lord Justice McCombe, Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Peter Jackson overruled the June 21 decision by Justice Nathalie Lieven of the Court of Protection, who had ruled that a forced abortion was “in the best interests” of the pregnant woman.
The decision triggered over 75,000 people to sign a petition that Right to Life UK posted on June 22 that asked U.K. Health and Social Care Secretary Matthew Hancock to “intervene in this case, so far as possible, to prevent this gross injustice being inflicted by the State on this family and ensure this woman is not forced to have an abortion.”
Scottish Bishop John Keenan of the Diocese of Paisley encouraged people to sign the petition, asserting that Lieven’s ruling “introduces a dangerous new development in the overreach of the power of the state over its citizens,” and “has to be changed.” Bishop John Sherrington, an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Westminster, denounced Lieven’s decision, stating:
Forcing a woman to have an abortion against her will, and that of her close family, infringes upon her human rights, not to mention the right of her unborn child to life in a family that has committed to caring for the child. In a free society like ours there is a delicate balance between the rights of the individual and the powers of the state. This is a sad and distressing decision for the whole family whom we keep in our prayers. This case, for which all information is not available, raises serious questions about the meaning of “best interests” when a patient lacks mental capacity and is subject to the court’s decision against her will.
Press Association reports said that the triumvirate of judges that overruled Lieven’s decision stated that the case was “unique” and they would explain their decision later.
After Lieven’s decision was overruled, Clare McCarthy, spokesperson for Right To Life UK, stated:
This is a very welcome decision that will save the life of the unborn child and the mother from a forced late-term abortion and much undue distress. However, the horrific original ruling should never have happened. Unfortunately, we fear that this is not a one-off case. We are calling on the Department of Health to urgently reveal how many women have been forced to have an abortion in the UK over the last 10 years and make it clear how they will ensure it will not happen again.
As The Daily Wire reported last Friday:
The Catholic News Agency (CNA) reports that the pregnant woman is 22 weeks pregnant and has been described as “in her twenties.” CAN also noted that the woman is reportedly Catholic, with a mother from Nigeria, and has the mental capacity of a grade school-age child. CNA added, “The woman’s mother, reported to be a former midwife, registered her absolute opposition to the abortion citing the Catholic faith of herself and her daughter.”
The judge, Justice Nathalie Lieven, who serves in the Court of Protection, which deals with individuals deemed to lack the ability to make decisions for themselves, stated, “I am acutely conscious of the fact that for the State to order a woman to have a termination where it appears that she doesn't want it is an immense intrusion. … I have to operate in [her] best interests, not on society's views of termination.” Lieven added of the pregnant woman, “I think she would like to have a baby in the same way she would like to have a nice doll.”
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